Interview with David Barlow

How do you approach cover design?
I see myself as a visual writer. Conceiving an appealing image for the cover comes easily because it uses that same muscle. Then I turn to my daughter for the cinematography, photoshop in this case. We make a great team. I love watching her fly through commands, I'll say I'd like it more such-n-such then presto it happens! Given a budget we could produce some really cool stuff.

For further graphic mastery she can be reached at sardenbarlow@gmail.com
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Ridgewood, New Jersey was a town that generally did not squash a kid's imagination. Natural childhood impulses were allowed to develop. I loved adventure and nothing seemed more adventurous than creating your own world. Anything could happen, at any time, it was up to you. That struck around eleven and wow I was hooked. For years after, short stories were the stick by which I measured my young self.

In college I began to understand writing as a dance of choreographed moves. (It took a few decades to get the hang of that). My degree from Emerson College focused on screenwriting, from there came structure and scene sculpting, not what to write but when and how. Importing this into fiction seems obvious but again it took time before my feel was right. I've kept very little prose prior to my mid-30s. The novels came after 40.

All of this can distill down rather potent to one's poetry, a passion that took me early and has yet to relent. So verse, scripts, and short stories were the means to achieve being a novelist. Along with a lifetime spent feeding some kind of aesthetic. Exposing yourself to worthy art of any form can only enrich your own. There was a time when it seemed everybody understood that.
When did you first start writing?
K through 6, seven years at Orchard elementary and our childhood culminated in June when the entire sixth grade went away for a week of camp in the exotic New Jersey woods. Tightwad Dad didn't want to pay whatever it cost so I and a couple of poor kids spent that week in our deserted three-room class. Little was required, we could recess when any grade was out there. I got swept up writing a story. The brandnew Texas Rangers baseball team gets highjacked to an underground stadium where they must play perfect android copies of themselves! Whoever wins can go back to the big leagues, meaning the humans must play above their own ability. Well this thing grew to forty pages and sparked my brain something fierce. The irony is having a skinflint father to thank for discovering your art. Guess I made some lemonade there.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Awe that's easy. After decades and hundreds (thousands?) of queries stringing me along like a publish-me junkie, I decided to finally learn the process myself. Of course the silver lining was all those years allowed a whole lot of improvement in my craft. It would kind of suck to look back on earlier published works you no longer liked.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My novel is a three-step process: Conception, writing it out, polishing and correction. I suppose the biggest bell is when you come up with a great idea, knowing it won't work without ideal execution. Later on you say okay let's really do this. Finally, sprucing it up there's sometimes a wow, how did I pull that off? Well it was a relay race and at the end if everything's just right, yes the bell goes ding. I can't top that. Yet anyway. Pushing the furthest yet still having it work, that's probably any artist's goal. Nailing it.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
How about what inspires me to get working each day.

These lives we lead are so richly layered, to approach that nuance in fiction is an elusive goal. One must arrange an extensive maze of suggestion. Sometimes those moves need be overt, most of the time not, you can let it flow. To capture anything real and true about remaining human in this modern world, honestly I see it as an honor to even try. To succeed in artfully painting fellow souls allows readers to feel beyond the tether of their own life. That as well is an honor and one I take seriously. I dive into work each morning determined to create something deserving. Material worthy of moving people. A vague sense of contributing to the higher good motivates me.

Of course the abiding irony is writing seven books with no means to gain an audience. It hones one's inspiration. This material was written to my approval; one of my books took 25 years before I was satisfied, that's one peculiar vision. The assumption is if I can't make it any better then it must work, it must move the reader as I hope because nobody's more skeptical. To carry them aloft is such a thrilling prospect it lures me to work every free moment. Make their ride its best, get to the heart of it! Not so many people ever find their passion so I have nothing but thanks, even as I possess zero sales. Should that number remain small the intent is unchanged. I wish to bring you as far along as fast as we can, I want you to fly. Whether you actually do or not, well, let's suppose.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
There is no question I gain great inspiration -- not for art so much as life itself -- from nature. Living in New Hampshire grants me every indulgence to be among the mountains and trees. Repetition of this drill over the years has made palpable the subtle munificence they offer. I don't think I could have done it without them. Nature is my church, it has no dogma and actually works in brightening the soul. I'm not sure what else is required.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Sure do. It inspired my own first story, the revisions I made to Green Eggs & Ham. A fine tome no doubt and thus inspired my surgical intervention with Mommy's scissors. I must have seen an advent calendar because I carefully snipped one small door in each page. Which opened to show a closeup on the butt in the facing picture. I mean some gags don't get old right? My favorite book had been rendered even better! Hindsight pegs this the origin of the species.
Why don't you go for happy endings?
Well I wouldn't describe them that way. The books close with notes low and high, though lows tend to predominate.

I want to leave the reader with unexpressed questions lingering on after the book is done. Querying those corners of the self we rarely get to. An ambiguous-to-downer finish puts you right there. A happy ending is too pat; hey that worked out, okay what's next on the shelf? That being said my first impulse now is to write a profound yet woo-hah clincher just to prove I can do it. Good idea. Book eight ends happy, you heard it hear first.
Why do your protagonists tend to be internally isolated?
Kinda startling to have these unintended parallels handed to you. Guess I want to take a character all the way down to their solitary place, where the code below our behavior gets hammered out. Do that with too many characters at once and the asides crowd out the interaction. The alternative is to take turns letting each have the floor which I do. But yes one protagonist tends to take over. To resolve internal conflicts through collective character action, guess I’m leery; when it’s up to character B to help character A you can pull that card whenever you want. Conversely if character A can’t make the leap without fully working it out inside, that not only reveals more it seems truer to life. Again though now you’ve got me wondering how to structure the braided arcs you’re talking about. So a happy ending with unisolated characters, watch me go.
Published 2017-07-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Wilderness of Mirrors
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 86,610. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Plots like a screenplay, characters like a novel, prose that goes poetic. Each of these twenty pieces brings you incisively off the map. With sorbets of flash fiction interspersed to cleanse the palate. The short story rules are pretty simple: The faster you bring it the more off you can go, til they’re just flying over all kinds of stuff.
Stone Flag
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 139,130. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Psychological, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Told from the point of view of a suddenly homeless mental patient wandering the streets as his meds wear off, Stone Flag takes us on a journey into one man’s past. From complete amnesia he starts a course that just keeps raising the stakes for 500 pages. Where it will leave him answers so many questions the book continues well beyond its ending.
Decalog
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 65,820. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas, Fiction » Literature » Literary
What happens when getting away with it isn’t enough? Living with yourself can become one too many. Decalog pulls you along at a tenacious pace like the untiring conscience of a good man who done wrong.
The Hornburg Variations
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 90,410. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Historical » Paranormal
Ghosts have no interest in scaring us. None. Of course that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or don’t have an agenda. What it can mean is their motives are open for interpretation. And there do all the problems start.
Ten Visions of the Fab Five
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 32,670. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Alternative history, Fiction » Literature » Literary
What if you could lead a fantasy life, I’m talking big as it gets. Nothing could top being a fifth Beatle. At least til you woke up. Just because you don’t remember doesn’t mean it has no effect. Especially when that dream continues every night for years on end.
Virgin Words
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 12,560. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
Poetry can hold up a mirror, revealing not the poet so much as ourselves. A view far too specific to be found in the verse. Words are launching points for your reflection. The lines are a child’s fist holding the bobbing red balloon that is your lofted view. Conjure beyond me each poem asks; the rest is for you.
2084: Orwell was an Optimist
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 65,600. Language: English. Published: March 20, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire, Fiction » Literature » Literary
A rib-tickling satire of American culture, politics, and media.